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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Living Aboard
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  #1  
Old 05-27-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

I''m looking at Baba 30''s and Westsail 32''s as live aboard/cruising possibilities. Other than the westail being slow I''ve heard nothing but positive things about both boats. Can anyone shed some light on the negatives that they may have found during or after the purchase of eith boats? I''m a single guy with no pets so room shouldn''t be much of an issue.

I''m very partial to the Bob Perry designed classic styled boats. My father has a Tayana 37 but they don''t fit my budget. I''ve set my limit at 70k but maybe I could budge a bit for something really "special".

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Mike
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  #2  
Old 05-27-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

One thing that you can say about the Westsail 32''s, they are not all that easy to discuss in an objective way. They have a strong following amongst those that love them and they are the butt of jokes by people who don''t. There is so much hyperbole and derision surrounding these boats that it is hard to really tell where the truth starts and the emotion ends. Here''s how I see them.......

To begin to understand the Westsails you need to look at where they came from. In a general sense, the Westsail 32 pretty closely based on the Atkin''s designed ''Eric''. The ''Eric''s'' were a 1930''s era design. They were heavily constructed as wooden boats with gaff rigs. Atkins was a master of adapting various burdensome (able to carry large loads) working craft designs, into smaller lighter yacht forms. He was a master of modeling hulls so that these extremely heavy vessels (even for their day) sailed reasonably well as compared to a what you would have expected in that ear from a boat of this type. In the case of the ''Eric'', Atkins based his design on a Colin Archer sailing yacht that was based on the world famous Colin Archer Rescue Boats. The ''Eric''s'' carried enormous sail plans and really took some skill to sail. To stand up to that enormous sail plan, the ''Eric''s'' were heavily ballasted with external cast lead ballast. That combination gave them reasonable performance (for a heavy cruiser of their day) in a pretty wide range of conditions.

There are varying stories about how the Eric design was adapted to become the Westsail 32. William Crealock seems to be credited with drafting the adaptation. When the ''Eric''s'' were adapted to fiberglass there were a number of changes made. To begin with the fiberglass hulls actually weighed more than the wooden hull of the Eric. This was partially because the freeboard was raised and a high bulkhead included as a part of the fiberglass work. They were also not quite as strong and stiff as the wooden hulled ''Eric''s''. To help the boats float on their lines, the Westsails had less ballast than the ''Eric''s''. This made them comparatively tender and as a result their sail plans were reduced in size dramatically from the ''Eric''s'', which is not to say that they have a small sailplan, just that they have a small sail plan for thier drag.

This ballast and sail plan change had a dramatic affect on the sailing ability as well. Although the Westsails still carry huge sailplans compared to most 32 footers and or most boats with their waterline length, they are next to useless as sailboats in winds under 8 or so knots. They are also not as good as the ''Eric''s'' in heavier conditions either. This is because the Westsails still have equal hull drag through the water, but they have greater windage, a higher center of effort in their sail plans. To over come that resistance they need to carry essentially the same sail area as the ''Eric''s'' but since they have comparatively less ballast that means that they end up heeling more than the wooden Erics.

This ballasting issue is further complicated by the fact that the Westsails had internal ballast (which reduces the volume and depth of the ballast) and that many had lower density ballast in the form of iron set in concrete, which further raised the center of gravity pretty dramatically. Even further exacerbating this situation is the fact that many of these boats were factory-built, but a lot were sold as kits and some were sold without ballast. The kit built boats varied hugely in terms of ballasting.

They also varied quite widely in terms of layouts down below and the quality of workmansip being done. This variation resulted in a pretty wide range of sailing characteristics and a pretty wide variation in the amount of weight in gear and tankage that the boats can tolerate.

I know that there are strong proponents of this venerable design, but in my mind they only make sense in some narrow range of venues and for certain types of owners. While a bit of breeze brings these boats into life, even in 15 to 18 knots of wind they are slow compared to more modern designs. While they have a slow motion, they are real rollers which personally I would rather accept a little quicker motion with less rolling. (When you talk about motion comfort there are two factors at play, the speed of accelleration at each end of the roll and the angle of the roll. In US navy studies of motion comfort, about half of the people in the studies preferred a slower roll through a wider angle, and the other half preferred a perhaps snappier motion through a narrower angle. If you fall in the slow roll camp then the Westsail would be a comfortable boat for you. If you fall in the ''can''t deal with large roll angles (like myself) then the Westsail probably is not an ideal boat for you.) If you are looking at a Westsail for coastal cruising in most US east coast venues (comparatively light winds) then a Westsail in probably not an ideal choice. BUT if you live in an area that has predominantly high winds or you plan a lot of offshore passages then the Westsail might make sense for some.

Lastly, no mater how you look at it, the Westsails are slow by any objective standard. Their design is based on thinking that is well over a hundred years old. While the ocean has changed little in 100 years, our understanding of what makes a boat safe, fast, durable and comfortable has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. Even if the generally historic ideas of reflected in the design of the Westsail appeal to you, there are other designs, similarly priced, that offer a lot better sailing performance, ease of handling, and equal seaworthiness.

Jeff
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Old 05-28-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

Jeff,

Thank you for your reply. I''ve heard several times from several people that in general Westsails are slow but very seaworthy. That''s for me. I''m not worried too much about speed. I''m more worried about how she''ll handle when the wind pipes up or I get traped in a hurricane.

I take it you''re either a owner or previous owner or sailboat conoisseur. I''m a little more worried about the day to day living aboard comforts. How is it for guests to come over for dinner? Is there enough room in the galley? Does the layout work or does everything seem to be in the wrong place. I know they have several different layouts, would you pick a different one if you did it over again, why?

What about the Baba 30''?

Thanks again for all the info.
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Old 05-28-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

I have spent a fair amount of time on Westsail 32s, I even helped a fellow who was building one. While I have owned a number of traditional boats in my day, I have never owned a Westsail 32 and probably would not own one on a bet. To be frank, I personally really dislike these boats in almost all ways. While there is a whole group of folks who seem to love these boats, I am not one of them. They sail extremely poorly by any objective standard and I own sailboats because I like to sail. I especially don''t like the way they sail in heavy going or a chop. These boats have a tremendous amount of weight and a tremendous amount of drag relative to their stability which means carrying a lot more sail that I would prefer in heavy going and still not being able to claw off a leeshore.

Then again, I also consider any boat with a sail tacked to a bowsprit to be an affection rather than a safe offshore boat, but that is just my personal take having tried to wrestle a jib off the end of a bowsprit while teabagging into and out of waves in a blow. It is the lethal quality of these things that lead 19th century sailors to call bowsprits "Widowmakers" and early 20th century offshore work boats to abandon bowsprits.

As to the Westsail interior layouts, they varied all over the place in design, quality and weight. There was a semi-standard factory layout but I can''t say that I have been on two that had the same layout as each other. Some of the layouts that I have seen are good offshore layouts, quite workable and simple. But not exactly ideal for living aboard. Others have had some very silly layouts that have left me wondering what the person was thinking when they built out that boat.

With regards to the Baba 30, I basically like most of Perry''s work but can''t even begin to understand why someone would think that the Baba 30 was even a remotely half way decent idea. If nothing else the teak decks would be a deal killer for me.

Jeff
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Old 05-30-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

Jeff,

We are all entitled to our opinions and I thank you for sharing yours. I''ve been "window shopping" for about a month or so and have heard nothing but good things for both the Westsail''s and Baba''s. This is why I started this thread, I knew there were some negatives that I hadn''t uncovered.

Why a Baba? Well here is my explanation. My father is a live aboard/cruiser and he owns a Tayana 37''. In my opinion it is the ideal boat. However, they''re a little pricey for me and I don''t want to have the same boat as my father. Somewhere in my research of Bob Perry''s boats I read that the idea of the Baba 30 was to be a smaller and faster Tayana 37''. To me that sounds like a good match.

I am very partial to the classic lines of all three boats. If money were no object I''d have a Hans Christian. The valiant 40'' would also be a contender, again if money were no object.

40'' of boat is a little too much for me. I could single hand the Tayana 37'' but it''s borderline and out at sea in a storm I''d be in trouble.

Are there any boats that you would recommend I look into around the 30''-37'' range with the classic lines and in the neighborhood of 70k?

Thank you again for your interest and input to my thread.

Mike
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Old 06-13-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

We have a Baba 30 and love it. She''s totally over-built and very solid. Best of all, she''s a Perry boat! Bob Perry put a great deal of thought into his design. Great storage and all lockers are numbered. All through-hulls are labled and are of top quality. The workmanship is fantastic. Teak decks are not a problem. We''ve had no problems with leaks. She''s great to sail and gives my wife and I a very secure feeling at sea. We looked at all of the typical cruising candidates and chose a Baba 30.

Good luck!
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Old 07-15-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

Check out the Union36, it''s also a Robert Perry design and is sistership to the Hans Christian. I''ve had mine for some 13yrs and it''s a wonderful boat, especially when thinking of resale value. Hull speed is 7.65. Not bad when you look at a Baltic and they have a knot more. The Baba, Panda''s and even the Westsail 32 is a sound investment. Good luck..
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Old 08-05-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

I deeply respect Jeff H''s knowledge and experience but I almost always disagree with his opinions (lol)

This time, I was right with him on his discussion of Westsails, the only part I disagreed with was this:

"I know that there are strong proponents of this venerable design, but in my mind they only make sense in some narrow range of venues and for certain types of owners. While a bit of breeze brings these boats into life, even in 15 to 18 knots of wind they are slow compared to more modern designs"

When people talk about a Westsail being slow, what they really mean is that they take a bit to get moving initially. Once moving, they move as fast as other full keeled boats their size. My theoretical hull speed is about 7kts, and I regularly sail at 6.5 to 7kts (I did 8.5 under staysail alone with the Gulfstream at my back).

But, I''m just going to poke about at anything under 8kts, true. If I were racing another "modern design" and the wind picked up to 15-18kts, then no doubt the other guy would get the jump on me... but 5 minutes later, you probably wouldn''t see much difference in our speed.

So, the only venues that would preclude the Westsail would be short tacking races in light wind locals Not quite the narrow range Jeff mentioned

My Westsail is a slow roller, but I don''t find that as uncomfortable as a boat that makes a sharp tip. When sailing under staysail alone once (no main to dampen the roll), with 4-6 foot rollers on the beam, it felt like I was riding on the back of an elephant... once you get into the pattern of the roll, it''s not so bad.

I have the traditional layout with a double V berth, then pilot berths port and starboard, and settee seats that pull out for additional berths. I have a small drop leaf table on the center line. I find that it''s a little cramped sitting on a small settee cusion at the small table.

There is another layout where they remove the (usually port) pilot berth and instead mount the settee so the seats face fore and aft. This lets the table be more comfortable at the loss of a couple of berths. Would probably work well for you. If looking at the westsails, visit the owners association at: www.westsail.org and then look at the member sites for pics of various layouts. My site is at www.greatsoftware.net/Sannyasin

As for the Baba''s I''ve heard Bob say that it''s one of his favorite off-shore designs... so, if you have the wherewithall I''d say it''s a good choice too.

All in all, I''m very happy with my Westsail.
Mike
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Old 08-05-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

Mike,

Its great you enjoy your boat, every boat has its something or more on which loyal owners hang their loyalty, but I think Jeff hits the nail on the head when he said Westsails are slow. To avoid just opinions, I offer the PHRF-NE ratings as follows:

C&C 32 159
WESTSAIl 32 222

The C&C 32 is considered more a cruising model than a racer, yet the same size Westsail gets over a minute a mile in rating.
While slow isn''t bad per se, it does often make difference between sailing somewhere and running the engine.

To paraphrase a fast ad "a little fast is a pre-requisite to (sailing) fun..."

Good luck.
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Old 08-05-2004
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Babas? +/-''''s

A friend of mine in the US runs a Viking reanactment society that has a couple of reproduction Viking ships.

They are selling one of them in preperation for taking delivery of a new and bigger (and better researched) boat and we have been talking alot about the old Fradreca. She is of oak and pine and lapstrake contruction in the viking manner. 32feet LOA with 29feet waterline and 9 feet of beem. Has twelve oars and a crew of 16-18 with a slightly too small viking square sail.

A couple of years ago Attli was quite surprised to find that this viking boat was also considerably faster then a Westsail32 under full sail. They caught it, passed by it and arrived at the dock in time to lower sail, tie up and, and have half the unloading done before the Westail32 entered the channel.

This is all I know about them (having only seen the pictures he took), but it is an amusing story.


Sasha
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